Monday, April 11, 2011

It's all about the Guinness in Dublin

We arrived in Dublin on RyanAir, the airline is as everyone I spoke to describes it, the bare minimum but when you are able to book fares for 5 cents who can complain?  I love that this airline holds these specials often via website, you only pay tax making travel throughout Europe extremely cost effective and compared to the Eurorail saves a tremendous amount of time.  Another airline to check out is Easyjet, they make Southwest look expensive.
Once I arrived at the airport, I had to go through customs, they were very welcoming unlike the ones we encounter at LAX, and once they noticed the last name on my passport had all kinds of things they wanted to chat about.  Being a McLaughlin does have its benefits in Ireland.  The Dublin Airport was extremely easy to get around and access to transportation into the city is just steps outside the entrance.  The Airlink Bus seemed to be the best deal and it was about a half hour ride into the city.
We checked into the Hilton Dublin which overlooks the Grand Canal, it’s not located in the heart of the city but offered easy access right outside its lobby entrance to a tram stop.  The Luas is a quick method of transport in and around the city, super clean and full of people going to and from work.  Buy a smartcard for the best deal.  The hotel staff was very friendly and helpful.  They offered us a happy hour complimentary which was a great surprise.  This consisted of beverages (alcoholic and non) and some traditional Irish appetizers.                 The Guinness cheese was our favorite!  

You can stay a bit closer to the city center, but I really liked the location of this Hilton as it was much quieter in the evening. The rooms were modern and much like that of a Hilton in the US. The hotel concierge was helpful and offered discounted tickets for the Dublin tour buses. 

We dropped our bags off and headed for our highly anticipated first stop, Temple Bar Pub.   I was told before the trip this was a must.  Established as the “friendliest watering hole” in Dublin, it seemed like a no brainer, the perfect place to drink our first Guinness in Ireland.  We ordered a pint and started people watching.  We noticed right away that majority of women were ordering Guinness with black currant.  Of course we followed suit and realized quickly it was a whole new side to the Guinness experience.  For us this was a great find and it became our new signature drink throughout the trip.  After chatting it up with the locals, we met Brian a college student that was eager to show us the cities offerings.  Our first stop on Brian’s city tour was the Arlington Hotel.  The hotel is famous for its Irish Dancing.  Dinner and a show run about 30 per person but if you sit at the bar you get the show without the hefty fee.   On our way to the next stop we met a leprechaun.  

The next morning after an amazing traditional Irish breakfast we got ready for the day, it was going to be jammed packed.  We had a lot to fit in.  So the first stop had to be the Guinness Storehouse, the most visited site in all of Ireland, or so I was told.  Admission is 12.50€  which included a pint of Guinness after the tour to enjoy at the Gravity Bar which sits on top of the factory and has a 360 degree view of the entire city.  This is definitely a tour you have to arrive at early to avoid the crowds.  

The next stop, Trinity College/Book of Kells.  The setting of the college is beautiful, you enter this location through the campus store (good location to buy Trinity gear and remember to get a tax receipt, it can save you big money).  The admission fee was 8€, which doesn't seem bad, but once I went in, I found it a little over priced.  If you really want to visit this site, I strongly suggest you do some homework on the Book of Kells before you visit.  The final events of the day led us on a castle tour which we decided to use as the backdrop for our own personal photo shoot.   The scenery and ocean setting provided amazing pictures!